The fan attaches easily using two spring clips that hold each side. It does extend slightly above and below the bulk of the fins, so some airflow will be lost outside the cooler. Due to the cutout shape on the front of the fins, the fan is inset slightly which helps to decrease the overall width of the cooler, a definite plus if space or interference with other components is a concern.
I'll be testing the Swiftech Polaris 120 with the following hardware:
AMD 1090T X6 Phenom II BE
4Gb Crucial Ballistix Tracer Red
128Gb Crucial C300 RealSSD
Icy Dock 2.5" Adapter
1Tb WD Caviar Black
1Tb Hitachi Deskstar
LG 8x BD-RE 16x DVD-RW
ASUS EAH5870 V2 1G
SilverStone Strider Gold 750w
Cooler Master HAF 932 AMD Edition
I'll be comparing the Polaris 120 to my usual cooling solution, the Swiftech H20-320 Edge. While certainly not a fair, apples-to-apples comparison, this will give us an idea of how Swiftech's latest high-end air cooler stacks up against their proven capable water cooling kit.
The Polaris 120 requires a specialized backing plate for installation, and unfortunately with my motherboard and case combo, this means removing the board in order to install the cooler. The backing plate is a metal bracket with a clear plastic covering to protect the under side of the board. Threaded posts are installed through the plate and held in place with knurled nuts put on from the top. Self-stick washers are then applied over the top of the nuts. After the posts are pushed through the holes in the motherboard, additional washers and nuts are screwed on from the top. These nuts have a centering ring to prevent movement of the posts within the holes.
Extra wing pieces must be attached to the square mounting bracket when using with AMD sockets. The holes in these wings then line up over the threaded posts, and spring loaded screw caps are then tightened over top of that. A small wrench is supplied with the parts to assist in tightening the caps from the sides, since the size of the cooler fins prevents accessing them from above. Unfortunately the fan overhangs the first memory slot on this MSI board, preventing us from using memory with tall heat spreaders, like these OCZ Platinum modules.
Now that the Swiftech Polaris 120 is installed, let's see how it performs.